Students prepare for prestigious math exam

Jonathan Tyler, junior actuarial science major, is planning on taking the Putnam Math Exam for the second time.

Anna Ciummo

On Saturday, Dec. 5, students across the U.S. and Canada will be competing against one another in the annual Putnam Math Examination, one of the most prestigious mathematics tests ever to be developed.

The test is composed of only twelve questions, worth ten points each. According to one of the registered participants of this year’s exam, Jonathan Tyler, around half of all participants get a zero.

Tyler, junior actuarial science major, took the exam two years ago as a freshman, and scored a noteworthy ten out of 120. 

 “This year, I’m hoping to do at least as well,” he said.

Gaspar Porta of Washburn’s mathematics department was responsible for recruiting and working with the students that plan on taking the test. He is also the designated proctor while the students take the test.

This year, Porta said, the amount of Washburn students participating is the sum of all past participants in all the years combined.

“I think there is a great deal of enthusiasm for it,” Porta said. “It’s exciting that there is a cohort of students that are actually interested.”

Porta explained that he and the participants are hoping for a good outcome, but are not expecting a high score.

“My expectations are not high,” Porta said about his students. “Even if two people manage to get a score of more than zero, I would consider this to be a successful year.”

The math exam is available to anyone wishes to participate. According to both Tyler and Porta, it is considered the most prestigious of all math exams in both the U.S. and Canada.

Simply taking this exam is an accomplishment, even if you get a score of zero. Tyler said it is worth putting on a resume.

“Taking the exam is an indication of a serious student,” Porta said. “It is a gauge of the most talented students out there.”

Monetary individual and team awards will be distributed to the winners, which are often students from Ivy League schools.